Golden Basketball Magazine
June 20, 2018

Tiger Den Basketball

Pete Maravich's Career at LSU - Senior Year

With a better supporting cast for Pete, LSU had its best record in his three seasons of eligibility and earned an NIT berth.

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NBA Finals - Game 7: 1954
Syracuse Nationals @ Minneapolis Lakers

The Lakers won their third straight NBA title, but the gutsy Nats made them work for it.

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Basketball Quiz

What rule that the American Basketball Association used from its beginning in 1967 did the NBA finally adopt in 1979, three years after the merger with the ABA?

Bluegrass Madness
Blue Yonder, Lonnie Wheeler (1998)
In the dim morning light of April 2, 1996, less than seven hours after the University of
had defeated Syracuse for its sixth collegiate basketball championship, a man
on his way to work in Franklin County, Kentucky, noticed a peculiar smattering of blue in
the roadside cemetery that he passed every day. Slowing his car and pulling closer to get
a better look, he made out the letters "UK" on balloons that bobbed above three graves.
Someone had tied them there in the night. ...
The cemetery tableau was a dew-softened poster for those to whom Kentucky basketball
has been handed down like a watch or a recipe or a certain way of stacking wood. For
many of them, growing up in Kentucky involved two choices: watch the game or go
outside and play. Such is the essential nature of Bluegrass basketball that it's often
referred to as a religion, which speaks well for Kentucky's pastors. Blessed, indeed, is the
church that is attended by as many Kentuckians as one of the coach's radio shows.
The fact is that basketball simply means more in Kentucky than it does anywhere else;
that it has more to do with how the state thinks of itself. While other places take the
game seriously, Kentucky takes it personally. To an almost frightening extent, basketball
is the thing Kentucky chooses for its identity. The distilleries and the horse farms and the
coal mines tell the tales of their own sub-states, but basketball is the collected works, the
treasury within which the far-flung Kentucky profiles are collated and bound. Basketball is
what the commonwealth shares. There are times - say, from mid-November to early April -
when one could make the forgivable mistake of thinking that basketball is what the
commonwealth is. Suffice to say, Kentucky is a place that grows and smokes tobacco,
makes and drinks bourbon, raises and races horses, mines and breathes coal, and sleeps
and eats its favorite sport. In Kentucky, they even have a name for the basketball
offseason. They call it the Kentucky Derby. It lasts a little longer if the track is sloppy.

L-R: Kyle Macy, Tony Delk, Cawood Ledford
Kentucky is a place where pep rallies are carried live on television, where radio stations
play game tapes in the summer, where a state legislator once moved that the flag be
lowered to half mast after a twelve-year home-court winning streak was broken. It is a
place that names babies for All-Americans (Kyle Macy) and streets (Richie Farmer
Boulevard) for players who don't even start. It is a place where bad news about the Cats
(i.e., the scandal that crumpled the program in the eighties, as first reported by the
Lexington Herald-Leader) is cause for somebody to pull a gun on the paperboy. It is a place
where a full-fledged, talk-show dominating, front-page controversy breaks out when the
university basketball team changes the shade of blue on its uniform. It is this: When Tony
, the leading scorer of the '96 championship team, announced that he would be
attending UK, Kentucky fans flocked to his Tennessee high school - eighty miles from the
state line - in such number that closed circuit television had to be set up in the cafeteria.
As for the trappings of obsession, Kentucky, of course, has notorious quantities of the
basic stuff - weddings planned around the Cats' schedule, lifelong fans buried with
pompons and autographed basketballs, blue and white caskets, inheritance battles over
the season tickets, divorces complicated by two seats in the lower level, home libraries of
game tapes, the Rick Pitino signature washer and dryer set ...
Such is the renown of the Kentucky basketball fan, though, that those those things have
practically become cliches. Everybody has a "Kentucky room" at home. Everybody has a
son named Kyle. More revealing are the subtle daily manifestations of basketball's reach.
There was the 1997 afternoon, for instance, when two women of the garden-club variety
were browsing at the fashionable Joseph-Beth bookstore in Lexington and the one in the
furry hat spotted a new book by the legendary Kentucky announcer, Cawood Ledford.
"Oh there's Cawood's book," she said. Calling attention to the picture of a former player
(Deron Feldhaus) in the cover collage, she asked her companion, "Now, who is that?"
Standing nearby, I glanced at the picture and, noting the subject's dark hair and solid
build, foolishly suggested that it might be Richie Farmer. "Oh," the lady replied, obviously
knowing better but politely indulging my ignorance, "was that before Richie had his
mustache?" I learned then and there never to presume to know more about Kentucky
basketball than a Kentuckian, no matter what kind of hat she is wearing.
There was also the occasion in 1996, when an unfortunate Harlan County teenager
swerved to avoid hitting a dog and encountered a utility pole instead, knocking out power
for the towns of Loyall and Baxer. The cool-headed investigating officer, aware, naturally,
that the UK game was about to come on television, withheld the youngster's name for
fear of what some of the less accommodating citizens might do to him.
In Kentucky, the idea is to not let life interfere with basketball.